America, Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Easter Monday all the John Muir Way

And today’s the day when you walk it off which is why it’s Easter Monday all the John Muir Way.

The John Muir is a 134-mile walking route across Scotland from Helensburgh in the West…

To the Great Conservationist’s home town of Dunbar in the East.

And a 15-mile hike from my back yard of North Berwick, or six-hour saunter up hill and down vale.

A walk with a pal

Get ready: Before a Wicklow walk

All in the company of my old pal Wee Jon who has become one of life’s great Outdoorsmen in his old age.

Although he showed little indication that he had a Kilimanjaro ascent or London to Brighton cycle ride in him…

When he was jumping around barefoot like a flea on the burning sands of Manchester, New Hampshire back in the day.

And our post-University summer in Boston, Massachusetts.

Particularly with New England on my radar.

Memory Lane

Bray to go: The Scary One in Greystones with Bray Head in the background

A good brisk walk is, of course, for all ages and physicalities.

And it allows you the time and space to talk and reflect on shared experiences and your younger selves.

And so the seven-and-a-half miles, three-and-a-half hour trek, to the village of East Linton became a trip down Memory Lane.

We could just as well have been in our old stomping ground of Aberdeen where Wee Jon was known to spend a night on the grass island Mounthooly Roundabout.

Or London and Brighton where we variously enjoyed the bright lights of Leicester Square and Chinatown or hosted Spanish students down the pier.

Or on the Wicklow Way or Bray Head walk in Ireland’s Garden County.

And picked up by car by The Scary One. And today too.

Life’s journey

A different world: Tenerife

Whichever walk your taking today, and be sure you do one, take the time to think positively on your life’s journey until now.

It may be the twists and turns of a Camino, Via Francigena, Tenerife coastal walk.

Or across the mountains from the Austrian Tirol to Bavaria in Germany.

Or your favourite route from your home, either around your town or city or countryside.

But whichever it is putting one foot in front of the other is the first step in life’s great adventure.

And so for me it’s Easter Monday all the John Muir Way.

 

Countries

Italia still top trumping the field

Back in the day what passed for children’s entertainment was a card game of car specs which invariably was won by Ferraris… and guess what Italia is still top trumping the field.

There’s great excitement among petrol heads that the Prancing Horse has got off to a flier in this season’s Formula One.

And nowhere more so than in northern Italy’s Motor Valley of Emilia Romagna.

Where they are tightening every nut and bolt in readiness for three major motor events this spring.

Yes, that’s Formula 1 this month but also MotoGP and the Motor Valley Fest in May.

With direct flights from the UK, motor fans looking for an adrenaline break this spring should look no further than Emilia Romagna.

Home to Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati, Pagani, Dallara, Energica and Lamborghini.

Tthis is where those with diesel in their veins come to race and play.

Bologna will hum to the sound of engines from April 22-24 for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

When the famous Imola track will thrum as Charles, Carlos, and er Lewis, Max and the cast will fill the grid.

They’ve been racing F1 there since 1980.

Although Old Man Enzo Ferrari first identified it as an ideal place for motor racing as far back as §948.

For these insights and more before the action starts at the anti-clockwise track check out the Maranello Ferrari Museum.

A parade of cars

On the grid: For the grand prix

After a hybrid version last year, the Motor Valley Fest is returning this May 26-29 with a four-day event displaying the most beautiful cars of the past, present and future.

Hosted in the UNESCO-listed city of Modena, this year’s edition (the fourth) will feature racing demonstrations.

And track tests (both classic and motorsports), promoting the best of Made in Italy.

Historic: The Italian streets

There will be supercar and hypercar displays.

As well as the opportunity to test drive some of the region’s most iconic cars, such as a Ferrari or Maserati.

It’s maybe best if I don’t tell them that a Fiat 500 got the better of me in the French Riviera a few years ago.

Get on your bike

Corner boy: And lean on me

Of course there are those who swear that four wheels are two too many.

And again Italy boasts its share of top motorbikers with Valentino Rossi the living God.

The MotoGP runs at the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riveira di Rimini (phew!) from May 2-4.

Additionally, the nearby Riviera Di Rimini in Emilia-Romagna region is a big draw for Italian holidaymakers.

And those visiting from abroad, offering the option to spend time on the beach.

Road trip

Fiat boy: In the French Riviera in a Fiat 500

Off the tracks, motor fans can make the most of their cars and the region by taking a road trip.

Along the thousand-year-old Roman road, the Via Emilia – which gives name to Emilia Romagna.

The Via Emilia covers 165 miles from Piacenza (west) to Rimini (east), on the Adriatic coast.

And it is known as one of the most stunning in the world.

This trip will allow visitors to discover distinctive spots within the region of Italy, including Parma, Modena and Bologna.

Along the Via Emilia, motor fans will be able to taste some of Emilia Romagna’s delights.

You’ll feast on Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and sample the balsamic vinegar of Modena.

And the fizzy Lambrusco – only when not driving.

And on foot

Resting those feet: On the Via Francigena

If you want to savour the grape, I’d recommend on another trip to Il Bel Paese the Via Francigena, the route from St Francis of Assisi’s town to Rome.

The last 100km of which I walked, fuelled on vino rosso, into the Vatican City.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Bergamo – alta e bassa

What’s Italian for phew’ I’ve been walked off my piedi today in Bergamo Citt’alta e Citta Bassa (City High and City Low).

And phew too… Johnson, Schnapps and Co. are too late to quarantine me on my return. I was always flying back tomorrow evening anyway, so Sunday is troppo tardi, idioti!

David and Goliath: The Basilica

That’s if I don’t decide to quarantine myself anyway with the Bergamoschi (the people that is, not the local sheepdogs who share their name. Although…!)

La Prima Citta

Bergamo, as we all know by now, is where Covid-19 entered Europe.

To the greater glory of God

But they have taken the worst it can offer and are coming out the other side, and will prevail.

Or as they say here ‘Molamia’ (stay strong).

Chin-Chin

The Bergamoschi have done just that since Covid visited in March and shut the town off from the rest of Lombardy, Italy, and the world for four months.

To the greater glory of beer: With Matteo

But not from each other… or not in the ways that matter.

Matteo, my tour guide volunteered to help out the old and infirm.

Restaurateur Niccolo the same with his original ice cream and food.

Stay strong: The Bergamo credo

And model citizen Emmanuele, who lives in a palazzo on the hill too, as a volunteer.

All are heroes… and all Bergamoschi are an example to us all

La Storia

Perhaps it is in the blood. It is certainly in their history.

I am standing in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Ciitt’alta.

The Bergamo bear: With Matteo and Atalanta Bear

Where the Bergamoschi built a new church after they were delivered from the plague in the 12th century.

And filled it with frescoes, magnificent paintings and special picture boards of other scenes where humanity prevailed over adversity.

Noah anyone?

Pasta Basta

Ma mi scusi. I have just eaten my own weight in food and drunk today, a small lago di vino and must now repair to my bed in the Hotel Excelsior San Marco.

I scream for ice cream: With Niccolo

A Domani.

And if you want to slip on the Italian Boot to follow in my footsteps, here’s my Via Francigena, into Rome

While as the Veneto region is just over the horizon to the east, here’s the City of Frescoes Padova.

INCONTRA A VOI NELLA VIA

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Hat’s the way to do it

We’ve long forgotten that it was milliners Dunn & Co who came up with the brand ‘If you want to get ahead get a hat’ in the 1940s.

But it’s the enduring appeal of the power of a slogan that it endures,

It has also become something of an unconscious personal mantra.

I’d even go as far as to coin my own slant: ‘put on a new hat, put on a new you.’

Hatta boy!

So an entirely unscientific trawl through five hats on my travels and why when I put them on I’m transported right back there.

The tail of Denver

Remember the Jimbo

Davy Crockett hats, Denver, Colorado: And a reacquaintance two years ago with an old friend, a raccoon hat in Denver www.denver.org and Go West.

I got a reputation for myself in my alma mater, chilly Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north for wearing said hat.

Forward fast to San Antonio, Texas, and the Alamo town www.visitsantonio.com hosts the US Travel fair www.ipw.com in 2023.

And I’ll blend in with all the other Davy Crockett impersonators.

Does this car look big in me? The Cote d’Azur

In the Cannes

Trilby hat, Cote d’Azur: Well it is Cannes and it’s what they’ve come to expect of me out there.

A classic Fiat 500 is obligatory too. Visit www.mandelieu.com and The Boat D’Azur.

Sailor boy: In West Hollywood

Sail away in California

Hello sailor, West Hollywood: It’s nautical but nice and in Pride Week in camp WeHo you have to make an effort.

I strutted like a peacock after getting a compliment from a queen.

I was on my morning constitutional www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/

Buen Camino

Camino hat, Santiago de Compostella, Rome, Tenerife, the Austrian Tyrol: And if you’ve walked the Camino then it’s important to tell everyone after.

It also keeps the sun off your head but that’s secondary.

Visit www.CaminoWays.com, www.FrancigenaWays.com. www.CanariaWays.com and www.tyrol.com. www.topflight.ie and www.topflightforschools.ie.

And A pilgrim’s prayer, Small roads lead to Rome, A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

If the hat fits

Cowboy Jimmy

Cowboy hat, Washington DC: Like a Greystones cowboy, riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo.

It was given to me by my Portland, Oregon https://www.travelportland.com friends and I showcased it with a glittery beard in DC https://washington.org and Easy DC.

And on the hottest day of the year carting luggage around New York https://www.nycvb.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/.

MEET YOU IN A HAT

Asia, Countries, Europe

Give us this Day – the wee chapel

Our places of worship have shrunk with the lockdown but we can still give thanks to Our God from here in our homes.

Our forebears did during the days of repression in the Catholic and Protestant wars.

And the oppression of the Jews and discrimination against Muslims.

I saw evidence for it myself in Ann Boleyn’s Hever Castle in Kent in the south of England, through a hidden door behind a closet.

Where they boasted what was one of the smallest chapels and where, on occasion, they celebrated Mass clandestinely

Point towards Mecca

While Christians rely on their set Sunday services Muslims who cannot get to mosques can build their own places of worship.

With stones and a keen sense of direction for Mecca.

Set yourself up a mosque

Which I found in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

With my ethically-responsible tour providers www.gadventures.com The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Small churches too can be found just around the corner when you go walkabout in a city.

Prague Protestants

As in Prague https://www.czechtourism.com/home/ and Hope springs eternal  from where Jan Hus and the first Protestants http://Give us this Day – The First Protestants (of Prague) hailed.

And the holy man stands with his back to you.

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Prague Protestant history

Again on Mount Lycabettus where stands the highest church in Athens, https://athensattica.com St George and My Greek odyssey.

Athena herself is said to have built the hill herself so she could inspect the erection of the Parthenon herself.

Ice love you

Small churches can be found anywhere really.

That they can put up a cross and one of the funkier churches was an ice one.

In Soll in Austria Soll Mates and https://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/destination-austria/region-wilder-kaiser-skiing-tyrol.html with Top Flight www.topflight.ie.

DSCN0726
Ring of truth: In Austria

While in Italy it helps if you’ve got your own chapel with your hotel.

Which I discovered on my Via Francigena www.ViaFrancigena.com and Small roads lead to Rome.

While in The Vatican http://m.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani-mobile/en/visita-i-musei.html itself you can always find a small chapel.

In one of the alcoves of St Paul’s Basilica.

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Your own hotel chapel… in Lazio

Where my own Scary One disturbed my peace at the end of my Via Francigena by phoning me up to give out about my phone bills!

Me, I’m off down to my own carefully created Wee Chapel in my back garden.

Where sits a wooden grotto with a holy water bottle from Lourdes and http://www.lourdes-france.org The Lourdes prayer.

MEET YOU IN THE AISLES

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Pilgrimage

Every day’s a schoolday – the virtual Seven Wonders

Every day is a schoolday was never so apt with parents all over the world going back to class with their kids… and relearning our geography.

The world is all around me… from fridge magnets to desk souvenirs to the big atlas that takes up half the wall.

Say a prayer: With my pal Hannah

But in the absence of actually being able to get out there just now to visit the wonders of the world we can take a virtual voyage.

Uswitch have brought together seven virtual tours of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World to inspire us for the future.

In with the locals: With my pal Humpy

Carved in my heart

Which, of course, includes magical Petra, where I sweltered and swooned… www.vistjordan.com www.gadventures.co.uk.

This is what Uswich has got for you .

With the honey-toned voice of this teacher better suited than the nasal Scottish twang of your Bandanaman… https://www.google.co.uk/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetview/treks/petra/.

But, of course, I took my own circuitous journey… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Don’t tell anyone… I’m a Christian

Colossal

Like everything in life there is always someone who wants to charge you for what you can see with your own eyes.

The Colosseum is one such example.

Your own imagination is your best tool… and supplement it with Uswich’s tour with this hour-long walking tour of the Colosseum.  

And why not at the end of your Francigena Ways 100km pilgrimage walk from Viterbo into Rome www.FrancigenaWays.com

Now that obviously leaves a golden of wonders (if that’s the collective term) for me still to do.

Now that’s a walk

China in your hands

Which are… The Great Wall of China. And one that got away from me.

When a former colleague who would usually turn their nose up at going to Travel events decided they would grace this promotion in Dublin.

Hey ho, I was off on my travels elsewhere at the time.

But I’ll get there yet, and don’t you know the Wall isn’t going anywhere… Virtual Tour provided by The China Guide

And that’s another

Peru too true

Machu Picchu, Mexico: And the preserve of the backpacking trustafarians but heck us oldies can walk the legs off most of them.

The Uswich virtual tour comes complete with a voiceover, will be right up your street.

Dome from home

Indian stunner

Taj Mahal, India: I’ve spent many a happy and drunken night at the Taj Mahal… trouble is it’s the Indian restaurant in Glasgow.

Still Uswich have allowed me behind the scenes of India’s Crown Jewel and once I do get out there I will channel my own Princess Diana look.

Mexican rave

Mexican areeba

Chichen Itza, Mexico: The nearest I’ve got to Mexico is a summer spent working in GuadalaHarry’s in Boston.

Don’t judge me! Rather let’s us all experience a 360 view of the stepped pyramids in this virtual tour. 

Putting Christ on his pedestal

Rio by the sea-o

Christ the Redeemer, Rio: And did you know there’s one in Lisbon too? Yes, if you’re Portuguese obviously.

But Rio offers the added extra of the Copacabana.

Here’s Uswich’s www.uswitch.com introduction to Christ the Redeemer in Rio… a virtual tour of the statue.

All wonderful wonders we’d all agree and ones you can tick off with G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk and well done Uswitch but why no place for the Acropolis?

The wonder of the Acropolis

Greek gift

Which is just one of many contenders for the Wonders of the World… https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

And your teacher will be back next week with more perils of wisdom. Remember your homework everyone.

Uncategorized

Give us this Day – The Vatican, a confession

In a side chapel in the Vatican you would expect the All-Seeing One to be keeping tabs on you.

And when she texts me to give out about how much I’ve been spending on roaming charges on my Via Francigena… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/. http://www.viafrancigena.com.

Well, the silent worshippers turn round and give me the evils.

The Vatican may be the smallest state in the world but it is the richest both in denarii, art and spirit.

Where Rome meets the Vatican. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We all know the statues of the Apostles, St Paul’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Even if we have never made the pilgrimage to the Vatican.

But that is just scratching the surface of the Vatican.

In the vaults there is even more art, wealth and history.

Although I won’t be allowed to visit on this occasion regardless of how lost I get.

I will though get to confess both the sins I have committed and those that I am about to transgress.

Confession boxes are positioned around the Vatican with flags on top denoting which language you can say sorry in.

The Castello Sant’Angelo which has a secret passageway from the Vatican

I receive a good hearing and I think a rather less lenient penance than the ones I’m used to in Scotland and Ireland.

No sooner had I completed the second of my Hail Marys, got up from my kneeler and genuflected than I was off.

Holy Water of life

And sinning again.

Scooping holy water from the fount and into my plastic bottle.

And, yes, if I’m going to sin I shouldn’t use plastic.

And so begins a devilish obsession that has taken hold of me: going to confession abroad and then going off to take some holy water.

Visit https://www.vaticancityguide.org. And http://www.vaticantickets.org

We all have a cross to bear. In La Laguna, Tenerife

Here’s another confessional in the Cathedral in La Laguna in Tenerife… but this pastor didn’t have English. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/04/a-walk-in-the-park-tenerife/.

And I had to ask what the Spanish for adultery, murder and fraud was.